You’ve always wanted to be a dentist. You’ve taken all the required courses, studied hard and sat through all the exams and finally received your acceptance letter. But the million-dollar question now is how are you going to pay for it? Tuition alone could cost more than $50,000 a year for four years, with housing and day-to-day living expenses costing at least another $20,000 to $30,000 a year.1  Fortunately, there are options that can help, ranging from government student loans to bank student line of credits, scholarships and bursaries.  

Here are three ways to help cover the cost of dental school:

  1. Government student loans
    Rod McFadden, Healthcare & Professional Advisor with Scotiabank, recommends dental students start off by applying for a government student loan because they are interest free while you’re in school. In fact, as of April 1, 2023, the Government of Canada has permanently eliminated the accumulation of interest on all federal student loans, including loans currently being repaid (although any interest that accrued prior to April 1, 2023, must still be repaid).2 In the case of most provincial student loans, there is a six-month grace period before you’re charged interest and have to start paying back the loan.3

    The amount you qualify for is based on a variety of factors including your income, your guardian’s income and how much money you have saved in registered and non-registered accounts. Fulltime students in financial need may also qualify for a Canada Student Grant of up to an additional $6,000 per year.4

    Usually, you only need to submit one application annually to apply for both federal and provincial loans (the Canada Student Loans program provides 60% of the assessed need with 40% provided through the provincial student loans program). The maximum lifetime limit is 340 weeks of assistance for fulltime students (plus an additional 60 weeks for those enrolled in doctoral studies).5

  2. Bank line of credit
    As most government student loans will only cover a portion of the cost of dental school, an additional source for funding your education can be through a bank line of credit. It will provide you with the ability to draw money up to a set limit whenever you need it. Unlike a government student loan, bank lines offer a bit more flexibility to use as you need them. This will help ensure you’ll be able to cover expenses such as additional clinical equipment costs or other educational materials when and if they arise.

    Rose Tornabene, Manager, Partnerships & Programs, Healthcare & Professional Banking, Early Career, with Scotiabank, recommends meeting with a Healthcare & Professional Advisor to set up a line of credit early on. “There’s a lot to consider,” says Tornabene. “We can help assess a student’s current financial situation, debts and sources of income to help them get the support they need. We can also connect students with a team of experts who can advise them on various facets of their goals while they’re in school and help them develop a plan to balance debt and finance any future ambitions they may have, such as opening their own practice.”

    While taking on debt can be stressful, Matthew Greeley, Scotiabank Healthcare & Professional Advisor, agrees that meeting with an advisor who specializes in supporting dentists can help ensure you get the best possible terms, such as lower fees, a preferred interest rate and other related financial services, such as a credit card. He says, “it’s important to factor in your future earnings potential as a dentist and to create a comprehensive financial plan that considers your future credit needs. For example, another benefit of obtaining a student line of credit is that you may also be able to transition it over to a revolving line of credit post schooling to help finance the opening of your own practice or the buying of a home.”

  3. Awards, bursaries and scholarships
    Tornabene also recommends checking out additional potential sources of income such as awards, bursaries and scholarships. A list of available scholarships, which vary by province, can be found online at Also, information on additional awards, bursaries and scholarships can be found on individual university websites. As many options require you to submit supportive information, it’s wise to start your search as soon as possible in order to ensure you meet the required application deadlines.

While dental school may be expensive, “you are investing in yourself and your future,” says McFadden. “I’ve had students come to me asking if they can afford it. The answer is yes – with the right planning, you can be well on your way to a successful future career. Plus, we can ensure you get the ongoing support you need to stay on track.” 

For customized advice and solutions to help you access and manage credit to help fund your education and launch a successful dental career in the future, contact us today.